Archive for the ‘Nisqually Quake’ Category

I am a local Olympian who was born on 14th Ave and raised in Olympia, but my father took me to Korea for a year when I was 9 in 1997. After we returned he studied Education at St Martins for 3 years. After he graduated he took me on vacation in February 2001 to Oahu and on to Bangkok Thailand.

During the year before we went to Thailand, I fell in love with a 21 year old college student. She was a francophile, a lover of French culture. I was 12 and had never had any romantic relationship before. I would spend many late nights sneaking down to the living room and into her bedroom to converse with her, draw, read, and snuggle. At some point in time after several months, my father discovered that I was doing this and made it clear that he thought this to be wrong, but blamed her for the behavior, while I was a boy experiencing hormones for the first time. I must commend my father for not evicting her from the house despite his vehement distaste for our age difference.

To the point of the Nisqually earthquake. I left for Bangkok and I became separated from her, and the first week we were there I was given the opportunity to use the internet on the tourist block in the middle of the city, where we were staying. While I was sending an email to the woman I was infatuated with, in a hot cafe, my dad told me that there had been an earthquake of epic proportions in the very town I had been born in, at one of the very few times that I was not there! I learned that Earth Magic, a gem shop that I had spent many hours as a 6 year old “Ruler of the universe” had been severely damaged, among many other buildings. It was only months later when I came back that I realized how much damage had been caused, when they made plans to rebuild the 4th Ave bridge.

For about a month after we returned, I would spend many late nights sneaking across the damaged bridge to visit with my illicit lover who still lived on the west side, in a new house. While the Quake did not directly affect me, it brings many vivid memories to my consciousness.

By Petra Arcania


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I moved to the NW from California in 2000 and was working in North Seattle when the Nisqually earthquake rocked the region. We were remodeling a mansion just a few doors down from the Boeing family mansion, which we were obliged to refer to obliquely as, “North Seattle Residence,” or “NSR.”

I was on my knees, painting in the kitchen when the earth began to roll. Intuitively, I shot up and went to the door to make it outside. As soon as I opened the door, I remembered the scaffolding erected just outside, so I looked up to see if anything was falling, then took the chance and shot across the little courtyard into open territory. I know this goes against the admonitions of drop and cover etc., but I’m from California and we are licentious about many things, including stop signs.

Besides the assembled and awed crowd, I noticed the property’s pond acted like one of those contrived wave pools. Never saw the action of an earthquake on water before. The Nisqually quake was unlike any I’d experienced. Unlike the severe and relentless jagged jolts of So-Cal earthquakes, this one was deep and wave-like, almost lulling and luxurious. Truth be told, I really enjoyed it.

A comedic moments: In one of the jobsite’s honeybuckets was a Samoan workman. He yelled, threateningly, “Quit That! Quit That!” Thinking his friends were goofing on him.

Later, a paint rep came and told us that when the earthquake struck, he was stuck on the Alaska Viaduct. Traveling North, he was safely on the top of the double-decker highway, yet he watched in horror as the crane and operator swayed helplessly at the site of the (then future) CenturyLink field. As far as I know, the crane and operator made it alright.

When I was 4, during the Sylmar Earthquake (1971), my father told me he swept me up and that I immediately lectured him, “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature.” I’d learned this from the Margarine commercials.

Hey, as long as we live, we make light or see the light in situations.

By Masa Vestuto

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I was down in Capitol Hill. A few stories I heard:

Like your friend, my neighbor said it felt like some unseen hand tipping her chair – except it was a cast-iron tub. She was taking a bath, and she said she was trying to remember what the quake preparedness said to do in that situation! (apparently decided it was “Throw on your robe BEFORE you run screaming from the apt, then rinse the shampoo…”)

My coworker was living in Pioneer Square, and she said as she ran down all the stairs, the giant crack was zigzagging up the bricks as she ran down. That’s why some people were crying in the street down there… sheer relief.

Someone working up on First Hill looked out the window, and saw the building towers four blocks away rise above the other buildings – and subside – then the church steeple three blocks away rose and fell – and then the tower of Providence Hospital one block away – !

My brother saw the wave rippling down the street. I missed it – I was too busy watching out for the telephone poles, which were all spinning crazily like tops about to fall…

By “Izzit Not”

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I grew up on the Olympic Peninsula. When I was small, we lived in a double wide mobile home. There was a period when we were regularly having earthquakes that we could feel (and occasionally see). I remember crying each time one hit – and my mother explaining how we can keep safe during them. After one notable one (I’d guess around a 5.0), my mother asked me why I was so afraid of earthquakes. “Because,” I replied, “I know if the house breaks all of the spiders from the attic are going to fall on me.” It was at that point that we realized that I was really afraid of spiders, and not earthquakes. At that point, I actually became very interested in earthquakes, tectonics, geology, etc. We live in an area rich for study of all those fields. Following area seismology became something of a hobby of mine – and still is to this day.

During my freshman year in high school (2000-2001), our pep band got to travel with our boys basketball team to the state tournament at the Tacoma Dome. After the tournament was over, we went over to the Safeway area on 6th Ave in Tacoma to get some food before making the long drive back to the north Olympic Peninsula. My friend Ryan (a girl) and I had gotten Jo-Jo’s from the deli, while Michelle and Larissa got cookies and funfetti frosting. We regrouped at the drink aisle. As we stood there, debating what type of Sobe to get, the ground began to shake. Because we were on an aisle full of glass bottles, the sound was similar to that of the terrible neighbor that takes their glass recycling out at 1 am on a Tuesday.

Now, Ryan was not, is not, and never will be the brightest person out there. Immediately upon feeling the shaking ground she throws her hands up in an exasperated fashion and yells, “WILL SOMEBODY STOP SHAKING THE STORE!” At this point, Michelle starts screaming and pulls Larissa to the ground as they ducked and covered. At this point, I chime in to quell the teenage girl freakout and say, “Guys. We’re having an earthquake. Chill.” No sooner had the words escaped my lips than a Safeway employee comes bolting up from the back of the store screaming, “GET OUT OF THE STORE!! GET OUT OF THE STORE!!”

Michelle and Larissa ran out with the employee. Ryan and I looked at each other, not wanting to shoplift, put our items on the floor and casually walked out. In the parking lot we tried to jump the undulating asphalt – but the wavelength was too great. I remember looking behind me and seeing the school buses bounce off the ground – seeing a good deal of space between the ground and the tires. I remember wondering when it was going to stop – enjoying the sensation – being awestruck by the power.

The next earthquake I felt after that was while I was living in Port-au-Prince, Haiti – it was not the utterly devastating one in 2010 – but a smaller 5.? that struck around 2005. I remember the sound of a ravine side collapsing taking a number of shanty homes and people with it.

Earthquakes still fascinate me – but I am absolutely not in denial of their sheer power. I currently live very close to the Denny regrade, a few blocks above I-5. I question the solidity of the ground beneath me. I keep my three days’ supply of water and first aid stuff easily accessible – but I wonder what good it will do me if my building collapses. While on one hand, I’d say I’m not exactly afraid of “the big one” – I should say in most arenas of life, I do not live in fear of it. However, I do have this twinge of fear that it’s going to strike when I’m not wearing any pants. Again – much like the spiders – I think this says much more about my fear of being exposed than my fear of earthquakes.

That is the end of my story – but I will tack on two abridged stories that I’ve heard in “Remember the Nisqually quake?” conversations.

My friend Steve installs AVL systems. He was performing regular upkeep on the Key Arena jumbotron that day – and he recounted to me that this multi-ton jumbotron (that despite being hung on a pulley/chain system DOES NOT MOVE) was swaying about a foot in any direction.

I’ve also heard from a woman who was working in the upper portion of the Columbia Tower that, “We hardly felt it at all – but the building let out a deep groan.”

That’s all I have to say about that.

By Kim Merrikin

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Hard to believe the earthquake was ten years ago already. I was at work, mere steps away from my desk and I remember how quickly the shock turned to instinct as everyone took shelter at the nearest spot possible. I was under the doorframe of an office on the second floor at a business that doesn’t deserve mention. We were located less than a quarter mile from the corner of alcohol mecca – both the Columbia and Chateau Ste. Michelle wineries and Red Hook Brewery were an easy walk away.

Outside the window of the office was one of the few remaining vacant fields in the area, and I remember seeing it ripple like an ocean wave and feeling that uneasy sensation a fraction of a second later. The whole building was in flux for an eternity that lasted seconds. I’ve never experienced anything like it before or since, but the threat of the big one was embedded in anyone who grew up in the Puget Sound. I remember it being the day after near riots in Pioneer Square and it seemed like penance for that event down there when you saw the damage. My fiancee was downtown in the Washington Mutual Tower and vividly remembers the whole building swaying back and forth for what seemed like the entire day.

By Chad Biggs (This story was first posted on Intersect.com 10 years after the Nisqually quake)

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Alaska Flight 583

The Seattle Times has asked its readers to share Nisqually stories to mark the 10-year anniversary, and some have responded. Reprinted here is one of the most unique and dramatic ones, from “twodogsafd” in Tacoma:

I was on Alaska Flight 583, arriving from Reno on the morning of the quake.
We had just touched down and were rolling down the runway when the quake struck. I thought we had an engine going out of control with the swerving, bouncing, and noise.

The crew got the plane on a taxiway, radioed that Seattle was being hit by an earthquake, and to stay in our seats. I looked out my window and, while we were jolting around, watched the jumbo jets bounce on their oleos at the North Satellite. I never thought to check out the control tower where the windows popped out.

After the quake stopped, I think the pilot made record time getting us to a gate. We deplaned, and promptly got caught by the massive traffic jam.

Flight 583 was the last plane to land at Sea Tac for the next several hours. Kudos to the crew for keeping the plane on the runway and keeping us safe. As a firefighter, I always appreciate someone looking out for me (and my crew)!

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It was a lazy day that day. Joseph, the younger brother of my girlfriend at the time was sick with the flu, so I had decided to stay home with him that day because their mother needed to go to work. Lazily, I lay stretched out on the couch when, all of sudden……”BOOM!!!!”……followed closely by the windows rattling!

I immediately knew what it was and I jumped up to my feet. Running around the corner and down the hallway to the bedroom where Joseph was sleeping, I stopped dead in my tracks in the bedroom doorway and yelled, “JOSEPH, EARTHQUAKE, DOOR, NOW!!!!” He jumped up and joined me in the doorway. I’ll never forget that feeling, standing there, feeling the earth roll underneath my feet, wave after wave after wave.

What an amazing, scary, wonderful, bewildering, and fascinating sensation! The logical part of my brain knows that the earthquake didn’t last for long, but, when in the moment, not to mention even now, it felt like it just went on and on. Once the earth’s vibrations settled down, we both went out to the living room so we could watch the news.

Joe sat down on the floor and I went back to the couch, where I began to attempt making phone calls to let both of our mothers know that we were okay. A few minutes into my dialing, Joe interrupted me. In only the way a seven year old can, he attempted to recall all that he had learned in school about earthquakes and then said “What are those things called? You know, the after boom things?” I replied, “Yes, you mean aftershocks?” He said, “Yeah, those things. Well, my teacher told us that sometimes the aftershocks are even bigger than the first one. Is that right?” so, of course, I said “Sure, sometimes that’s right, but not all the time.” Then, he said, “Okay” and just walked away to his room.

Finally, I got through to his mom. All was well on both of our ends, so then I started attempting once again to get in touch with my mother. After a few minutes, Joseph came out of his room, exasperated, arms piled high with his survival kit, which included his blanket, his half full bag of candy left over from the last Halloween, multiple video games, and his video game console with the cord dragging behind him. He said to me, “Okay. I’ve got everything just in case. You just need to get the water.”

Not able to help myself, I laughed and laughed and laughed. Finally, I was able to stop laughing long enough to try dialing again. This time I was able to get through so I could check on my mom, as well as attempt to share my survival kit story.

The story couldn’t have come at a better time. My mom worked in the library at Western State Hospital. She was safe, but her library was in shambles and some of the old brick buildings had crumbled in areas, so a story to lighten the moment was just what the doctor prescribed.

After finishing a good laugh and letting her breathe for a moment, I got off the phone so I could call his mother back again to share the story. If there’s anything I could be thankful for in this situation, it is the fact that Joseph had actually been paying attention somewhat in his lessons about earthquakes and their “after booms” enough to know that some preparation is, indeed, necessary.

By Christina Brewer

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Seattle Washington
Wednesday, February 28, 2001

Wednesday, or “Hump Day” as they traditionally call it, began like any other in Seattle. The traffic was bad, as usual, and the coffee was warm and frothy, like a warm, frothy Seattle summer. By 10:00 am, the streets were crowded, with Dot Com hotshots, Baristas and Bailiffs, Soccer moms, Soccer kids, and the homeless of Pioneer Square all asleep in their sweet, simple naivete, not yet aware of the danger yet to befall them.

By 10:55 am, their slumber was rudely awakened by the first major earthquake to hit the Puget Sound in roughly 50 some years, and the effect was as could be expected.

The quake, which was clocked at 6.8 on the Richter scale, shook homes and major businesses alike, closing many schools, and even Boeing’s local plant due to safety concerns.

Destruction was widespread, though not as bad as it could have been considering the severity of the tremor and the relative unpreparedness of the general population. A few local businesses withstood major damage, with Seattle’s Fenix Underground, a nightclub, losing the entirety of its front section, including the awning and windows.

Local geologist Akira Shugokawa, from the Seattle/Japan Institute for the study of Geological Phenomenon and Giant Monster Research, spoke at length about the recent events, and was quite candid about his beliefs.

“Well, the general concensus here in the Seattle office is that we believe that Godzilla was probably involved, as our Tokyo office has been tracking the giant lizard for two weeks with GPS, and we have him tracked to the Washington State area, at approximately 9:03 A.M., Seattle time.”

Washington State Officials, including members of the University of Washington Seismology Lab, dismissed Dr. Shugokawa’s report as the ramblings of a drunken lunatic.

Godzilla could not be reached for comment.

By Anthony Passonno
(originally appeared on the Acid Logic site in 2001)

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The cars in the parking lot jumped around. The day of the Nisqually earthquake, I took my elderly father to the Dick’s Drive-in on the foot of Queen Anne Hill near the Seattle Center. He met there with a small group of elders each morning at about 11 AM for coffee. We were sitting on hard chairs attached to small tables with the elders sharing stories when the room began to shake. A huge chandelier in the center of the two story room began to swing, and the cars reflected the ground movement by jumping toward the building and then away. Oh, no, an earthquake, I thought, but this is going longer than I want, and when will it stop? Should I try to get these elders under the tables to protect them if the building begins to cave in? But how would I get them back in their seats after it’s over? After a few seconds, I decided to just ride it out and hope for the best.

When the shaking stopped, we had collected ourselves, and the chandelier stopped swinging, I had an appointment in Ballard. Along the way, I saw no damage until I got to the Ballard Bridge where a few light standards had bent in two. My husband, who was working in West Seattle, drove immediately from there to Magnolia crossing the Viaduct and the Magnolia Bridge both ways, all before both structures were closed. At our home all he saw was a scattered stack of CDs and a cupboard door standing open.

We have a cabin on the ocean north of Ocean Shores, and friends were staying there at the time. They had just arrived and were unloading the car when it hit. The beds in the upstairs beat a tattoo on the floorboards as they grabbed their kids and headed for higher ground in case a tsunami was on the way.

Mother rode out the shaking in her recliner in their Queen Anne apartment. Her condo experienced a crack that opened up in the wall near the ceiling, but none of the other units had any damage.

By Gail Martini-Peterson

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From Olympia:
I was nineteen years old, still living in my parents’ apartment, and I was home alone. My home was on the Eastern most side of Olympia, near Saint Peter’s Hospital. I was sitting at the table, by the kitchen, watching television in the morning. My feet were resting on the chair, and I was suddenly sure that the chair was broken, because it felt like it was rocking back and forth, like something in the base had snapped. I put my feet on the floor, and realized that it was actually the floor that was rocking, as there were large waves moving over the land, pretty much the same way they would describe on the news later. I’m sure there was a sound (I heard about it sounding like a loud rumbling) but I was too focused on the tactile/balance sensation of it to notice.

So, after thirteen years in public school, doing the same earthquake drill several times a year, the training had done what it was supposed to do. It had conditioned a response into me. I immediately jumped under the table, and as I sat there feeling the earth move I was acutely aware of the fact that I was right next to the sliding glass door, and that my conditioned plan was imperfect. People would laugh at me for months after hearing the story.

They laughed because the door did not end up breaking, and I rode out the quake under the table. No damage to the apartment, no damage to me, but I heard that one guy died of a heart-attack somewhere in Washington, so that was too bad.

My mom was very happy to hear that I was OK.

By Kevin Bridges

From Seattle:
I was on Queen Anne Hill, on a ladder doing a remodel on a large home overlooking Elliott Bay. It was a cloudy day and that morning my friend and I were working on the roof.

The shaking began while I was on the ladder so I thought the ladder was loose but as I looked around everything was moving, even the concrete in the street and sidewalk. I got down from the ladder very excited but when it was over, a few moments later, I felt a sense of relief and disappointment.

By Joseph McCluskey

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